Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"Good Riddance" is the Loudest Sound I Never Heard

I remained in the hospital another six days after that phone conversation with Denise.   Blood transfusions had given me a minor boost and antibiotics had cleared up the sepsis infection by the time the slow wheels had turned on my admission to a sister hospital.  Ironic, I know.  I will give the social worker much credit for attempting to appease me.  McLeod-Darlington was an intermediate facility rather than one for long term care.  Patients were there on rehab assignments for reasons like a broken leg with no one to take care of them at home.  I was going there to receive all night tube feedings.  It was like an IV drip, but it went in the feeding tube rather than a needle in one of my veins.  I was also going to receive physical and occupational therapy.
I was transferred from McLeod to McLeod-Datlington by ambulance on June 3rd, 2013.  I most certainly did not want to spend five or six weeks there, but I had crossed the Rubicon on the matter.  I received two unpleasant surprises.  One, I had a roommate.  I had not had a roommate in such close quarters since my 1997-’98 junior year at college.  The second unpleasant surprise was that he suffered from dementia and went into a near sc4eaming fit because he believed I was there to murder him.  He was relatively fine while the nurse was in the room.  So was I.  She was a cute little thing named Chappel.   She checked my heart rate and said it was elevated.  I told her it was because she was here.  We became fast buddies, especially after she moved me to a room with a more suitable roommate.
Denise’s surgery was the next day, so once I was settled in, I called to wish her well.  Chappel was out checking for a better roommate arrangement at the time, so denise could hear the cries of, ’Why do you want to kill me?” coming from the other side of the room.

 “Who is that?” she asked.
“My roommate.  His mind is bad.  He think I am going to kill him,”  I answered.

“You have a roommate?”
“Yep.  You owe me big time.” 
There was an awkward silence there for a moment.  At the time, I assumed she was trying to figure out if I was being funny or meant it.  Today, it is obvious she was actually trying to figure out how to respond considering she had no intentions of ever dealing with me again.  She solved that problem by sending all my phonecalls to voicemail.  I would guess thirteen months later, they still do.  She escalated her off the grid status by eventually ignoring any and all parties associated with my medical care.
Denise’s surgery was on a Wednesday.  By then, I had been moved into a private room.  Chappel was awesome, folks.  My brother-in-law, Tony, dropped by unexpectedly to bring another duffle bag full of clothes.  It was awkward, because we really do not like each other and never have.    I am certain I will elaborate on that a whole lot before all is said and done.  I treaded carefully.  I figured he was upset about Denise and Kirsten.  I also assumed he had a certain glee I would not be around for the next five or six weeks.  Or ever again, in actuality.  He never left the doorway as he tossed the duffle bag on a chair beside my bed.  He asked if I was all right.  I asked about Denise.  He said she was in pain, but otherwise okay.  He left after that.  I have not seen or heard from him, either.  At least one thing came out of all this mess.

 I would like to tell you many interesting anecdotes, but there are none to tell.  I bonded with several members of the nursing staff.  Vicki had health problems that kept her from becoming a nurse long after she earned the degree.  Whitney and her mother drop by the nursing home still and see me when visited her grandfather.  Becky threatened to get in her car and drive to the main hospital to get my lunch tray when they forgot it one day.  Everyone wanted to put weight on me, but especially her.    But I did not talk much.  I just stayed in my room, staring at the ceiling.  Staff again inquired as to why I would not watch television, but no one hassled me about it or asked if I was depressed.
They knew it, though.  McLeod-Darlington forced me to use a wheelchair instead of a walker to get around, so I just did not go out.  On slow days, Chappel would take me walking outside so I did not have to use a wheelchair.  They asked once if I would like to sit at the nurses’ station.  I politely decline.  Once, the physical therapist we walk outside.  I got ambushed with an activity involving potted plants that I could not refuse to participate in.  The activities director left audio books running in my room on two separate occasions.  I fell asleep both times.
The fourth week of June rolled around with what I thought was good news.  My insurance was not going to pay for any further rehab assignment.  I assumed this would force me to go back home.  But here is where reality sank in.  Denise would not answer her cell phone.   My cell phone was at home--or so I believed.  A landfill is more likely--with every other number on speed dial.  The social worker could not reach Denise, either, so she sent a certified letter which Tony handled.  When he called her, he said Denise was still recuperating, so I could not go home.  He suggested the original plan of a nursing home.  The social worker asked to speak to Denise, but refused, citing her convalescence.  He told her she would have to deal exclusively with him.
I have already mentioned Tony and I do not like each other.  He had suggested as far back as 2005 that I be placed in some sort of managed care facility rather than his house.  Denise stood in the way at the time.  His passive-aggressive contempt for me flared up often in the ensuing years.  I figured he was taking advantage of Denise being down to get rid of me.  If so, there was a faint hope Denise might stand up to him.  But I really had no idea what was going on.  All I knew is that taking up permanent residence in a nursing home was something I would have preferred to die than do.  That thought never left me.

    Neither Denise, nor tony ever contacted me.  My attempts to contact denise were futile.  They left no messages with anyone at McLeod-Darlington.  On July 19th, roughly six weeks after I arrived, I was notified by Chappel--of all people, why did it have to be her?--that I was to be transported at noon to Oakhaven Nursing Center.
“No one told me anything!”  I said.

 “Brenda [the social worker] didn’t tell you?”
“No.  No one did!”
Chappel tilted her head down rather than look me in the eye.  She spoke unusually softly because she knew what she was about to say was not true.  

“Hopefully, your sister will heal up fast so you can go home.”

No chance of that.

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